SAN ANTONIO – Move over, Butler. Virginia Commonwealth is crashing the Final Four.
The 11th-seeded Rams, who didn’t even bother to watch the NCAA tournament selection show, are heading to Houston, and final No. 1 seed Kansas is heading home after a spectacular collapse.
Jamie Skeen scored 26 points as the Rams delivered the biggest upset of the NCAA tournament, shocking the Jayhawks 71-61 on Sunday to become just the third 11th seed to ever make the Final Four.
So doubtful were the Rams of even making the tournament that they watched the Cartoon Network and went out for fast food instead of watching the revealing of the tournament field two weeks ago. Now, they’re Houston-bound after an incredible takedown of the last No. 1 seed.
“Those people (the doubters) don’t matter,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “The only people that matter is the 14 guys on our team, and they never stopped believing.”
One of those doubters was one of Kansas’ vaunted Morris twins – Marcus or Markieff. During a captains meeting with officials before tipoff, VCU guard Joey Rodriguez said one of the brothers offered him some parting words: “The run ends here.”
“We’ll see,” Rodriguez shot back.
The Jayhawks saw all right.
“We got beat by a team that was definitely better today,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “They were faster. They were good.”
The Rams needed five wins to go from First Four to Final Four. Along the way, they toppled the Pac-10’s Southern California, the Big East’s Georgetown, the Big 10’s Purdue, the ACC’s Florida State and now the Big 12’s Kansas. Next up is Butler.
The Jayhawks spent the first half not knowing what hit them. Kansas (36-3) hadn’t trailed by more than two points the entire tournament. With five minutes left in the first half, the Jayhawks trailed by 17.
Kansas trailed 41-27 at halftime and closed the lead to 46-44 with 13:11 left, but a 10-2 VCU run put the Jayhawks right back where they started.